Don Thompson began working at McDonald’s in 1990. He rose through the ranks and became president and CEO in 2012. Just three years later, he left McDonald’s and joined the board of directors at plant-based meat company Beyond Meat.
“More and more, every day, the traditional favorites of beef, fowl and fish are being augmented with additional plant protein sources to satisfy this new taste demand,” Thompson said in a press release.
Thompson saw that people wanted plant-based products, a vision McDonald’s current leadership chooses to ignore.
Instead, McDonald’s continues down a very different path. The largest restaurant chain in the world allows unthinkable animal abuse at its chicken supplier farms.
Birds used for McDonald’s are among the most abused animals on the planet.
McDonald’s suppliers breed chickens to grow so unnaturally fast the birds often can’t support their own bodies, causing constant, severe pain. If humans grew at a rate similar to that of commercially bred chickens, a six-pound newborn would weigh 660 pounds after just two months.
These animals are slaughtered when they are just six weeks old. Their bodies are still developing, but they can’t take the strain of rapid growth. As a result, many chickens suffer debilitating deformities and broken legs, which buckle under the weight of the birds’ enormous bodies. Some die of heart attacks, never even reaching slaughter.
The chickens are crowded in filthy, dark barns for nearly their entire lives. They are forced to sit in their own waste and breathe acrid ammonia that burns their bodies and eyes.
Burger King, Subway, Jack in the Box, Sonic, and dozens of other major food companies have mandated that their chicken suppliers end many of the worst forms of abuse by 2024, including using lower-welfare breeds.
Even large producers are listening. After pressure from MFA, Perdue Farms, the country’s fourth-largest chicken company, announced sweeping reforms that will affect nearly 680 million chickens each year.
Celebrities Moby, Alexandra Paul, Andrew Keegan, Alison Eastwood, and others have joined hundreds of thousands of consumers in calling on McDonald’s to stop allowing torture in its supply chain.
As part of a coalition of animal protection groups, MFA held eye-catching protests outside a popular McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Chicago.
MFA supporters lined a busy street, holding signs showing the suffering McDonald’s allows chickens to endure. “Abby the Abused Chicken,” a graphic, seven-foot-tall chicken with a broken wing, slit throat, and open wounds, joined the demo.
Leaders at McDonald’s were sure to notice. McDonald’s global corporate headquarters are just outside Chicago, and the Chicago Tribune wrote about the pressure on McDonald’s to reform its chicken policies.
While the commonsense improvements consumers are urging McDonald’s to make will not stop all suffering under the golden arches, they will bring relief to millions of birds each year.